Hillshire Brands Company
New: Corporate identity
Launched: June 5, 2012 (effective July
3, when NYSE posts shares)
Story in brief:
History repeats itself. In 1985, when I was
a new associate at Anspach Grossman Portugal, our client
Consolidated Foods was struggling with its bland, forgettable
corporate name, and chose instead to be represented by just one
of its consumer-brand names. To clearly separate the corporate
identity from the brand, Gene Grossman designed a reserved,
all-caps SARA LEE CORPORATION wordmark, in effect abstracting
the baked-goods brand to a higher level; its new message, "We
manage fine brands." I thought this was brilliant. (Some years
later, the Corporation reverted to the Sara Lee mark shown here,
closer to its Sara Lee Kitchens brandmark.)
In 2012, as Sara Lee Corporation prepares to spin out its
European coffee-and-tea businesses (as "D.E. Master Blenders 1753"
-- very complicated), it has concluded that "Sara Lee" no longer
provides an umbrella identity appropriate to its remaining portfolio
of predominately meat-product brands. So once again it has reached
into that portfolio, selecting Hillshire Farms for abstraction to a
higher level as Hillshire Brands.
Essentially, that abstraction was the design brief assigned to
Duffy & Partners (a trusted brand design resource) just a few weeks
ago. Joe Duffy shares with us these presentation points:
"With Hillshire taken on as the corporate name, our
collective goal was to insure that the integrity of the product
brand was represented, while leveraging the profound quality of
the Hillshire name.
"That said, this new symbol taps into the familiar Hillshire
visual equities while elevating the overall aesthetic so that it
can be a beacon for all your brands.
"The modern sensibility communicates your innovation, that it's
a new day, it delivers the pride and humility that is at the
that heart of your company and the Hillshire name.
"The oval is inclusive, represents continuity, mission and
quality. It's your seal of approval.
"The colors are reflective of your brands coming from the earth
and the sun fueling growth.
"The overall aesthetic balances your unique heritage/your
own-able story with the innovation and forward thinking of the
C.E.O. - Sean Connolly (after spinout)
Identity design - Duffy & Partners; Joe Duffy,
Strategy: The upside of this strategy is
that great brands, doubling as CI, can add a significant
multiplier to corporate valuation. The downside is that their
greatness is not always sustainable. Apparently that's what
happened to Sara Lee (now an institutional memory, licensed to
other makers.) So this is a gamble, a bet on sustainable
enhancement of the Hillshire Farms reputation.
Design: There is a sufficient difference
between these corporate and category brand expressions, compared
side by side, but barely. One could too easily stand in for the
other. Perhaps BRANDS gets too easily lost here, an
expendable afterthought (and clutter), when (to seat a new
corporate presence) the more desirable communication may be the
whole of HILLSHIRE BRANDS (akin to Sara Lee Corporation,
Corporate Brand Matrix ratings:
structural, 50% strategic, 0% functional (est.)
... by abstracting its brand
to a higher level
AGP's more 'corporate' 1985 identity...
CEO Sean Connolly